Vengeance of Excalibur logo

Virgin Games * £29.99

In which Shadowmaster steals Excalibur and the Holy Grail then buggers off to sunny Spain. Arthur is understandably upset by this and sends four knights off to retrieve his mantelpiece ornaments before they get scratched or something. You then, control, these four knights on their quest to Benidorm, however unfortunately there's no option for beating the German tourists to the sunbeds. Hey, xenophobia, don't you just love it?

Yes you've seen it all before. There's wodges of disk accessing, a few pretty static screens, the odd map bit, a spot of picking things up, some mild strategy and some terrible medieval puns. There's no "Insert disk 3" here, instead you get witty little messages like "Place square medallion number four in any magic box."

Do me a favour. No doubt the American market will just love this game (xenophobia again?). I however found it twe, boring and largely naff. Cut your toe nails instead.

Vengeance of Excalibur logo

Alrightish, unspectacular (and back!)

Back in May last year we less-than-eccstatically reviewed this game's predecessor, Spirit of Excalibur. This one is no better - Vengeance of Excalibur is just as slow in access time and there is still lots of disk swapping.

In addition the game is not compatible with the A500 Plus - a ridiculous state of affairs with the Plus having been in the shops for a good six months, and one not helped out by a handy sticker or anything warning you of the fact on the box. Oh dear...

The plot goes something like this: the evil Shadowmaster has imprisoned King Constatine (the ruler of England after Arthur died) and carried him off, together with the Court Sorceress and an assortment of the land's most prized treasures, to the Iberian peninsula of Spain. This new exotic location is the main selling point of the game - your job is to select four knights (from a wide selection, including Lancelot, Bors etc.) and then set off on a mission to set everything to rights.

Gamewise there is certainly plenty to do - lots of characters to control, people to meet, land to cover, treasures to find (you need to finance your mission), murderous dwarves to avoid, gypsy fortunetellers to consult, unfriendly basques to flight and so on.

Nothing is for free though, and you will find you are spending a lot of time conserving your gold supplies - or trying to find new dosh - as you play. Even the old priests who you may encounter on your quest will expect a price for information - they won't settle for religious relics or a measly holy cross.

The game is a mixture of multi-screen map (with your knights depicted as icons) and much more detailed screens for combat, trading and the like. Graphics are generally quite bold and attractive with minimal but pleasing animation effects in combat and battle screens, though sound is limited to a jingly jangly medieval tune that is best switched off after a while to avoid nausea.

It all sounds okay really, doesn't it, but that is before you realise the amount of disk swapping involved throughout the game and the frustrating length of access-time needed. This is sloooow stuff alright. Better paced, better programmed, and perhaps with a bit more imagination shown throughout, this could have worked. As it is it merely makes as shallow an impression as its predecessor. For shame.